Blind Joe Reynolds was the nom-de-Blues of Joe Sheppard, an early Blues singer and guitarist who lived a surprisingly long life, mostly outside the law. Disputed reports of his origins put his birthplace as Tallulah LA in 1904, although others cite somewhere in Arkansas in 1900, and a nephew claims he was actually called Joe Leonard. It is believed that he was blinded by a shotgun blast some time in the mid-20s, although that did not stop him carrying a pistol and using it with some accuracy, owing to an acute sense of hearing. It appears that Joe’s early years were spent in and out of jail, and during his periods of freedom he earned a living playing the Blues.
Blind Joe’s original version of ‘Outside Woman Blues’;
When Eric Clapton included one of those 1929 Paramount songs ‘Outside Woman Blues’ on Cream’s debut album ‘Disraeli Gears’ in 1966, Blind Joe was still out there on the road somewhere. The track was credited to ‘Arthur Reynolds’ but Joe did not survive long enough for the royalties to flood in from this big selling album, as he passed away in Monroe LA in 1968 from a stroke complicated by pneumonia. The History of the Blues is littered with characters like Blind Joe Reynolds: men who lived the life they sang about, made a lot of money for somebody else, and died an unknown figure, destined for a poor man’s grave.